Turkey-Syria Conflict

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Is Turkey preparing to join the war in Syria?

This is the question people are asking in the wake of recent events, in which Syrian shells rained down on the Turkish border village of Akçakale, killing five in Turkey last week. Turkey retaliated almost immediately, shelling locations within Syria for five straight days in response. Over the weekend, more Syrian shells landed in Turkey, this time in Turkey’s Hatay province, which just happened to be a part of Syria until 1938 and which has long constituted a bone of contention between the two countries.

And the details are indeed interesting. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has asked for and received permission to respond from the Turkish parliament, which has authorized the government to take military action against Syria, including the deployment of Turkish forces if necessary. According to Turkish media reports, seven Syrian soldiers were killed in the Turkish shelling from last week, and this week the news reports continue to be grim

The events from last week hardly constitute Turkey’s first involvement in the ongoing conflict in Syria. In June of this year, Syria shot down a Turkish jet, claiming it had violated Syrian airspace. The incident, which resulted in the death of the two Turkish pilots flying the plane, led to a round of recriminations between Ankara and Damascus, as well as between Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party and the opposition Republican People’s Party, which has sharply criticized Erdogan’s handling of the crisis that has been unfolding to the south of Turkey’s border over the past eighteen months. Garnering fewer headlines, meanwhile, has been Turkey’s support for Syria’s opposition. Since fighting broke out in Syria last year, Istanbul has emerged as a hub for Syrian opposition figures as well as for British and American officials funneling aid to them.

Shelling games: Turkey and Syria

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I'm sure many of you were too busy watching the presidential debate last night to notice, but some interesting drama has been going down in Turkey.

Specifically, a small town on the Turkish border was shelled yesterday by Syria. Five Turkish civilians were killed in the little town of Akçakale, where the sound of shelling has already been a feature of life for some time.

Chaos in Akçakale